Oakland/Temescal

Oakland/Temescal, Alameda County

East Bay Loop area, San Francisco Bay Area region

Temescal Branch Library
5205 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA 94609

opened 1918
Alden Branch Library 1918-1948
Temescal Branch Library 1948-present
currently a public library

grant amount: $35,000
architectural style: Tudor Revival
architect: Donovan & Dickey


Four branch libraries in Oakland were constructed between 1916 and 1918, the result of a 1914 Carnegie grant of $140,000 obtained specifically for branch libraries by Oakland's city librarian Charles S. Greene. Oakland pioneered branch libraries, opening branch reading rooms as early as 1878, and later emphasizing neighborhood branches. Greene's branch request matched Andrew Carnegie's philosophy wherein more recent grants focused on small towns and on branches in metropolitan areas to bring books closer to the people where they lived. However, controversy surrounded the attempt to allocate the four sites evenly between established working class neighborhoods and newer middle class neighborhoods east of Lake Merritt. Today, three serve as libraries, all of which have recently been retrofitted and restored.

Donovan and Dickey chose the Tudor style for the Alden branch, and it is the remaining example of California's two Tudor style Carnegies. It is located on the northwest corner of 52nd Street and Telegraph Avenue near the intersection with Claremont Avenue, three very busy streets, with nearby neighborhood shopping, residences, commerce, and light industry. Its auditorium has served as a community center. Alden was the historical name for the Temescal area but had long been supplanted by the latter in popular usage. The change of the library's name to Temescal was made at the request of neighborhood organizations. The library has recently been retrofitted and refurbished to its original interior appearance.